Driver of the Year



One of the highlights of the Coach  Tourism and Transport Council’s Coach & Bus Show this year was the  Driver of the Year competition which culminated in Niall Cronin Jnr of  Cronin’s of Cork finishing in first place.

The tenth biennial Coach and Bus Show took place in the RDS  Simmonscourt Pavilion on the 17th and 18th of November.

The show, which was officially opened by Minister Brendan Griffin, was  a complete sell out with in excess of eighty Exhibitors featuring  large and small industry suppliers showcasing their unique range of  products and services.

The Driver of the Year competition provides drivers with the  opportunity to demonstrate their unique driving skills and knowledge  of the industry.

Niall beat off stiff competition from Liam Doherty of Barrett Coaches  and his Cronin’s colleague, Ronan Kearney, who took the bronze medal.

The calibre of driver at Cronin’s disposal was very much in evidence  as a third member of their workforce, David Ryan, was ranked sixth  overall.

34-year-old Niall has been driving for the past 12 years and is  maintaining a proud family tradition that spans three generations.

“My grandfather Dermot Cronin founded the company in 1957,” he  remarked to Irish Trucker & Light Commercials. “My father Niall, who  now looks after the fleet side of the business (Dermot Cronin Motors),  always had me out on the road with him since when I was a kid. The  coach business is kind of addictive I suppose. It’s in my blood  certainly and I have always enjoyed driving.”

The entrants in the Driver of the Year competition faced a stern  examination of their bus driving credentials before Niall was declared  the winner.

“The competition consisted of three areas: a theory test based on your  knowledge of the industry and a 15 to 20 minute interview where you  had to expand on that knowledge and outline the challenges that faces  drivers along with the pros and cons of being a driver,” he explained.

“Ultimately, you had to show a good knowledge of industry regulation  and a good understanding of the various requirements across the  industry.

“The third part was a driving test over a course designed by members  of the RSA. Driving a brand new Mercedes Tourismo, you had to  negotiate a course designed my members of the RSA. The basic skills of  driving were put to the test, old school driving is how I would put it  without the use of cameras and reversing beepers.”

Cronin’s Coaches celebrated their 60th Anniversary in 2017 and the  provision of top quality vehicles and service is at the core of their  success.

The well-known Cork operation was awarded Coach Operator of the Year  2016 and Niall and the next generation of the Cronin family is working  hard with a staff of 95 people to build on their reputation as one of  the top Coach companies in Ireland.

With a growing fleet of 75 vehicles Cronin’s can cater for all types  of business, from touring the four corners of Ireland, to providing  for their corporate clients and also working with local sports teams,  schools and general private hire.

“We’re very proud of our fleet and it’s important that our fleet looks  well when out on the road. We rebranded a couple of years ago and a  good looking fleet shows you take pride in your job.”

The company’s head office and depot is based in Cork City 10 minutes  from Cork City Centre and Blarney Wollen Mills. Second to that is  their Dublin based operation 10 minutes from Dublin airport.

Both depots have the capacity to handle any type of private hire be it  Touring Related, Corporate, Incentive, Private Hire or Schools.

So what are the pros of driving that Niall discussed in detail during  the Driver of the Year competition?

“The main type of work we do is tour work and it’s very rewarding to bring tourists all around Ireland and helping them to make memories

that will last a life time. Ireland has a lot to offer and as a driver  you are a big part of it. It’s all about personality and you get a  good buzz when you drop people off at Dublin Airport with smiles on  their faces after an enjoyable trip.”

 And the cons? “It’s has gotten very tough nowadays for drivers to  manage their hours. A lot of drivers would like to work all the time  but you just can’t do that and that makes it hard to make a living.

The increase in the volume of traffic on the roads also makes it a  very difficult job and lack of facilities and parking also adds to the  hardship.

“Wages are not at level that they should be considering the  responsibility a driver has. To get a license alone costs €3,000 so  it’s hard for young people to get into the industry. Ronan, who  finished third, is 26-years-old and one of the youngest drivers we  employ at Cronin’s. There’s a shortage of young drivers coming into  the industry and that’s something that needs to be addressed looking  ahead to the future.”

The Coach & Bus Show was a weekend to remember in more ways than one  for the Cronin family.

“Dermot Cronin Motors launched the new VanHool EX Range,” Niall  revealed. “We had 19 coaches on order and sold eight of them over the  weekend. My grandfather Dermot and father Niall were present on the  weekend, as was my uncle, current MD Derry Cronin. It was great to  bring the trophy home to Leeside,” he concluded.

Cronin’s Coaches Ltd

Shannon Buildings

Mallow Road

Cork City 

Tel: +353 (0) 21 4309090

Email:  [email protected]


Cronin’s Coaches Ltd


The Ward 

Co. Dublin 

Tel: +353 (0) 1 8351560 

Email: [email protected]


Taken from Irish Trucker & Light Commercials magazine, Jan/Feb 2019, Vol 22 No 1